Women’s basketball rides hot streak into tournament

Image courtesy of Stockton Photo, Inc.

With a third-place ranking in the Liberty League, a roster dominated by ambitious underclassmen and the third seed for the quarterfinals, the Vassar women’s basketball team is a force to be reckoned with this season.

Up until the team’s most recent 66-71 loss against Skidmore on Saturday, Feb. 11, Vassar was on an eight-game winning streak, Vassar Athletics reported. Prior to this, the team collected eight impressive, consecutive wins against Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) (71-50), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (85-68), Bard College (70-41), St. Lawrence University (SLU) (75-57), Clarkson University (89-57), Bard (77-34), RPI (67-55) and RIT (86-73). The Brewers have a current overall record of 15-8 and a conference record of 12-4, according to Vassar Athletics.

The team’s standing is noteworthy, especially given the fact that nine of the 15 players are first-years, competing for the first time at the collegiate level. There are four sophomores on the roster as well as two seniors, team captains Eliza Srinivasan ’23 and Alex Lee ’23. Last season, Srinivasan was named Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year, as reported by the League. Lee is the team’s top scorer this season, currently boasting 234 points, per Vassar Athletics.

Head Coach Anthony Mason told The Miscellany News, “We are extremely young, and our two captains have done an amazing job leading the team and helping to give them confidence and guidance on and off the court.” He commended the sophomores’ ability to adjust to a new playing style following such a significant roster change this season, as well as the first-years’ willingness to contribute and commit to the team, qualities that have been essential to its success this year.

First-year Kolby Davis commented on the team’s roster: “There’s been a lot of necessary growth for the team which makes sense since we only have two upperclassmen.” 

Isabella Tawney ’26 echoed this sentiment, reflecting on how she has grown as a player this season: “For this year as a freshman it was definitely difficult adjusting to the level of play that’s expected in college. [I’m n]ot saying it was easy or that I have it even figured out yet, but I will say the difficulty and level of expectations push me to become a more driven person.”

This sense of drive is just one of the team’s strengths this season. Lee asserted, “We all are a threat on the court in different ways. We take pride in ‘out efforting’ teams, and if one teammate is having an off day we pick each other up and focus on what we can control (such as communication or effort).”

Davis echoed the versatility of the team, noting, “Our biggest strength is definitely our numbers/depth. We are the type of team that strives on being unable to be consistently scouted since anyone can go off on any given night.”

Vassar entered this 2022 to 2023 season picked to finish second in the Liberty League’s preseason poll, with three-time League champions Ithaca College favored to take home another title, according to the League.

The Brewers finished its 2021 to 2022 season with 277 turnovers, the fewest in Division III women’s basketball that year, the Liberty League reported. The Brewers ended the regular season second in the League, with a conference record of 16-2 and an overall record of 17-8. They lost in the semifinals of last year’s conference tournament, per the League

Mason spoke to the team’s current standing and promising prospects after securing the third seed as well as a quarterfinal home game. “For a young team this is huge,” he expressed. “One of the things we have done really well is committed ourselves to being the hardest working team in our league. We have done a really nice job committing to being a good defensive team and working the ball inside out offensively.”

He also spoke to the team’s character, describing: “One of the best things about this team is how unselfish they are. They are generally excited for each other’s successes and they care for each other immensely. I think it’s great to be around a group of young people who work so hard to make others feel cared for!”

Next up for Vassar is the team’s final games of the regular season, both to be played at home, per Vassar Athletics. On Friday, Feb. 17, the Brewers will face William Smith College, and the following day they will play Ithaca. The Liberty League Championship Tournament, locations to be announced, begins with the first round on Feb. 21. The semifinals will be held on Feb. 24, with the championship on Feb. 26.

The Brewers are on track for a strong finish to their season and have a real shot at the Liberty League championship title.

Image courtesy of Stockton Photo, Inc.

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